17 yr old son addicted, can’t kick out, can’t afford rehab?

by Out of Ideas

(Rancho Santa Margarita, CA USA)

I have a 17 yr old son who has been smoking pot since 13yrs old. This came to light at the end of last summer. We had caught him with cigarettes and suspected pot, but when things came to a head so to speak, he came clean (we think) about his past use.

He claims to have been using pot at least weekly since sophomore year of h.s. and he will graduate (hopefully) in 4 weeks. In the last 3 weeks his grades have dropped dramatically, he has 3 D’s that used to be B’s. Today, instead of going to school he was caught by my husband smoking pot in the backyard with one of his “friends”.

Back at the end of the summer we found small baggies of skunk weed in his room and kicked him out for the night. We have a sober home and two daughters 15 and 14 who are honor students and not involved in anything like this. We have strict rules about drugs and drug use.

So, upon finding the baggies, we self referred to a police and school sponsored program for teens using drugs (PRIDE). What came out of the required evaluations by Psychologists and Psychiatrists, among the other requirements, was that he is ADHD and he started taking Vivance. He has been getting the best grades of his academic life (all A’s and B’s) until a few weeks ago.

We have known he’s been smoking cigarettes daily, although he tries to hide it. I also found a make-shift pipe for pot hidden in a sock he left in my car about two months ago.

I revoked all driving privileges for this and he was not allowed out for the next few weeks.
After today, my husband wants him out. He’s only 17 though and legally we can’t kick him out.

We also don’t have money to send him to a rehab.
I am looking for advice for the next level of circumstances and any recommendations for where I can get him help on a sliding scale.

Any information would be gratefully received.

Who Is In Charge?

by: Ned Wicker

Your son has probably figured out by now that you aren’t going to do anything about his drug use because he’s only 17. The drop in grades tells me that he’s no longer even interested in graduating and has no regard for any consequences that might arise from his breaking the law.

He does not respect the rules of your home, the best interest of his sisters, and worse yet, himself. He can chose a life of addiction and misery, or he can wake up and get back on the right path. You caught him smoking pot with a friend. Do his friend’s parents know this happened?

Sounds like you’ve already tried to be gentle, but now you may have to lay down the law. The school and the police might be helpful here. Al-Anon is always a good resource and those folks will give you and your husband a chance to receive some support.

Put him on a very short leash and start looking for alternative treatment programs. Consider daily drug testing, kits available to do this.

Call AA or NA. Join Al-anon, they have excellent, free, local resources for you. There is help out there. Stand your ground. You need to win this fight. Don”t let him win, because he’ll be the big loser.

17 year old son…

by: Lynette


I totally agree with Ned’s comments.

However, on a personal note I can greatly relate to your situation.

My son started using alcohol and pot when he was 14 years old. He got arrested for breaking some windows at his school with some other students. We also discovered that he had taken some of my husband’s pain killers. This was all very devastating to us and we did not know what to do. We took him to a drug rehab.. When he got out they let him back in school to graduate early, which he did. He smokes cigarettes, also.

However, it is NOW obvious that he did not want to quit. He has been a drug addict for 13 years and is now 27 years old and in jail for the fourth time. For 9 years I did everything I could to help him. I rescued him, took him to rehabs. and mental health units, bailed him out of jail, helped him financially…the list goes on and on. I also attended Al Anon meetings (for friends and families of alcoholics and drug addicts) almost this whole time – but at the time I DID NOT GET IT. I also saw a counselor, went to church, and saw a medical doctor.

I was not doing good at all because all I did was try to “save” him and did not realize what it was doing to me. My husband helped in some ways but I was by far the enabler and in denial – I did not realize that all the times that I “helped” him did not really help him -BECAUSE- as I now finally see, he really did not want to quit – he would just go back to using (maybe he wanted to quit but did not make any effort to quit).

Now for the past four years I have been doing all I could so that I would not end up in bad shape again. Now, within the last 1 1/2 years I finally have realized and accepted that I CANNOT HELP HIM. I have to walk my own walk and he has to walk his walk. It is still painful but I have been working on myself-getting support and doing things I like to do.

I give every day over to God and give him and everything and everyone over to God. This is working for me! Also, the Al Anon principals FINALLY “clicked” with me when I met another lady at Al Anon whose son and mine were practically “twins” in what they have done. She was an inspiration to me because she new she had to detach from her son or he would keep dragging her down.

I think the most important thing for you to do is to get support for yourself such as Al Anon, seeing a counselor, talking to a clergy and seeing a medical doctor/physician’s assistant. I do all of these and I am going better. I am finally working on putting up some boundaries between me and my son – you would not believe some of the things he could talk me into and he knew how to play on my sympathies.

I wish you the very best-write any time-I will pray for you, your son and your family.

Sincerely, Lynette

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